Episode 63: IoT and Work.com with Joe Andolina | Salesforce Developers Podcast

Joe Andolina is a Director of Technical Marketing here at Salesforce. Today, I’m sitting down to talk with him about his long history of doing some pretty crazy experiments with the Internet of Things. We also discuss how some of that has dealt back into Work.com and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Joe even created his own degree in visual computer science to blend the real world with the digital world. Tune in to hear all about his ingenuity and what he’s doing today with IoT and Work.com.

Show Highlights:

  • Joe’s earliest experiences with computers.
  • What his 11 years at Adobe were like.
  • How he started getting interested in the hardware side of things.
  • The swarm of wireless devices he built that use mesh networking for audience interactivity.
  • Some of the hardware that you can use to set up something like a fever-testing kiosk.
  • How flow streamlines things to the point of moving away from programmatic code and towards visual code.
  • What Density.io is and how it can help with tracking occupancy.
  • How Joe structured Salesforce data to be able to track occupancy.
  • Tricks for tracking proximity.
  • IoT hardware to pick up if you’re interested in trying that architecture out.

Links:

  1. Joe on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeandolina
  2. Joe on Instructables – https://www.instructables.com/member/joe.andolina
  3. Joe on Github – https://github.com/jandolina

Joe’s Demos:

  1. Nissan Connected Car – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/Natcj6SjW8wxgb4ziz51BY
  2. Touchless Kiosk – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/wnU9qHTXncgum1Cs1KsYYU
  3. Compliant Wash Station – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/YSsDE1t4ntfN64EC1pYxqu
  4. Room Occupancy – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/i2dNBepExsptHYoyqGKJDf
  5. Manual vs Automated Thermal Scan – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/CiAQb3aNJvV4RcPpmfL8vV
  6. Workspace Crowding – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/s8DqzxH3AqMnc2wA5nVaww
  7. Proximity Masks – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/J7LYjtXCFq5oxwpDGqaWU6
  8. Iron Maiden AR – https://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/Uzrp2jMBYke33pVsZZwS7s
  9. Van Build: http://www.andomation.com/van-build

Episode Transcript

Joe Andolina:
I was studying computer science at Chico in California. And then a GE class, I took sculpture and I started to love it. So I was wondering how I could blend the real world with also the digital world.

Josh Birk:
That is Joe Andolina, director of Technical Marketing here at Salesforce. I’m Josh Birk, your host for the Salesforce Developer Podcast. Here on the podcast, you’ll hear stories and insights from developers for developers.

Josh Birk:
Today, we sit down and talk with Joe about his long history of doing some pretty crazy experiments with IoT, and how some of that has dealt back into Work.com and the pandemic. There, Joe was describing how he created his own degree in visual computer science. To kick things off, we’re going to start back there.

Joe Andolina:
A side note is I took three semesters of trampoline, getting trained by this person who taught NASA astronauts how to navigate 3D space.

Josh Birk:
No way.

Joe Andolina:
So I took all that subject material and wrote my own major. I took all sorts of 3D graphics courses and graduate courses as an undergrad, and then bounced on the trampoline and visualized it in the computer, and then I made interactive sculptures. It was super fun.

Josh Birk:
Wow, that is pretty cool stuff. Before that, what was your earliest experiences with computers?

Joe Andolina:
This is a funny one. Macy’s back in the day was very community active, and so they had a build a robot competition. So I took a few cardboard boxes and stacked them up. I’ve always loved to take things apart, and so I took some radio parts and glued them on the inside of the head. So-

Josh Birk:
No way.

Joe Andolina:
… it had a door on the side and you could see inside. And I won an Atari 400.

Josh Birk:
Oh my God. That is totally awesome. I mean, Atari 400, that’s like gold for a kid.

Joe Andolina:
So what you would do is… Well, it’s not the 1200. So you’d have to play a tape into it and then you’d have to copy pages of code into it, and then you played guess one to a hundred. That’s my earliest programming.

Josh Birk:
Nice. And I do like the fact that… When you say tape, that’s a proper cassette tape, right?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, it was just after the eight-track.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Okay, you also spent 11 years at Adobe. What was your job like back then?

Joe Andolina:
That was pretty cool too. Macromedia just came out with Flex, which was server-side ActionScript, which is basically server-side Flash. So I got brought in to do that as a consulting role. My first job there was to make Yahoo Maps as a single page interactive thing right as Google Maps was coming out. So we did that. That was fun.

Joe Andolina:
So that was the consulting team, and the consulting team kind of got dissolved or it just wasn’t doing Flex anymore. That got end of lifed. So then I was one of the few developers in the design department, and they would come to us and say, “Is this possible?” And we’re like, “Yeah, that’s possible,” and we’d do proof of concepts. And then several of our products got shipped, specifically the last one. One of the ones I worked on was Adobe Shape. It would use the camera to real-time catch vector images, and it turned out to just be a logo stealer.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Okay, so I have to ask a side question there. I don’t know if we’ve had this conversation before around Flex, because Flex was also how I got into the Salesforce ecosystem, because they needed somebody who developed rich and interactive applications, which was sort of all the rage back then.

Joe Andolina:
Nice.

Josh Birk:
And the guy who got me into Flex was James Ward over at Adobe. Were you compatrIoTs with James?

Joe Andolina:
I do know James Ward. He and I, we did collaborate on one project together. I cannot tell you what it was right now. But I started out as just like, “Hey James…” He was an evangelist, I believe, at the time, so you’d always see his work. And then I’m like, “Well, I need to know that.” So I started emailing him and then we became buddies. Yeah. He was at Salesforce for a good time, but I don’t think he’s there anymore.

Josh Birk:
I believe he’s over at Google now.

Joe Andolina:
Okay.

Josh Birk:
Yeah.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, good guy.

Josh Birk:
Good guy. And I still like to tease him about just how far Flex actually made it.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. I mean, it was amazing to be able to code something instead of use the GUI, kind of like what SFDX does at Salesforce.

Josh Birk:
Well, yeah, and also, it was nicely componentized. And I think all jabs aside, at the time, there wasn’t much of a competitor to Flex. I remember Microsoft came out with Silverlight and some other stuff like that. But at the time, if you really wanted to create a complicated user interface and you didn’t want to code it in Macromedia Flash, Flex was kind of the go-to.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, and that was pretty cutting edge. That was before we had web apps and node and all that stuff.

Josh Birk:
Right, right. Okay, then how did you come to work at Salesforce?

Joe Andolina:
Well, a lot of my friends work at Salesforce. I think it might be a marketing thing, but I’m not a sales guy, so I saw the name and decided, “That’s not for me.” And then I found out what they do.

Joe Andolina:
Specifically, I know Robin Guido. She and I worked together on the consulting team back in Macromedia.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
There’s a offsite that Parker does every year called the Innovation Summit. They need a fun element, and so before I worked at Salesforce, Robin brought me in to do a tinkering event with a man called Gever Tulley, who runs a cool school in San Francisco. We put together this thing where you got a box of Popsicle sticks and tape and glue, and your challenge was to get a ball to roll exactly… Build a contraption that would have a pinball like a steel ball bearing roll for exactly two seconds. We had a cup at the bottom with wires sticking out of it. And then we had a solenoid to launch it at the top so you could get good timing.

Joe Andolina:
So everyone built their machines. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. And then what we did was they left for the night and when they came back the next day, we had taken and made a waterfall out of all the working machines, because the wires coming out weren’t for the timer, they were actually to trigger the next machine.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
So that was my first real Salesforce project. And then I got to do that project for the Innovation Summit two more times-

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
… as an employee, which was super fun.

Josh Birk:
That’s so jets. I’m having flashbacks to train to drop an egg off of a ceiling and not have it break kind of thing.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, so we talked about, “Should we do an egg drop? Should we get a hot air balloon?” Like all the things.

Josh Birk:
Nice, nice. Well, so then that kind of segues into my next question in that you’ve got a history of both software and hardware. So how did you start getting interested in the hardware side of things?

Joe Andolina:
Well, that takes us back to college. Because in sculpture, this… Neil Grimmer, I believe he was at IDEO for awhile. He would drive to Chico several days a week and teach art in technology courses, because he was a sculptor at the time. He introduced me to the basic stamp, so that you write basic into. But you could control the pins and turn stuff on and off and deal with sensors. So from that class, I started loving microcontrollers and just learning hardware on my own. So you get the theme here. I’ve always made weird things.

Josh Birk:
Right.

Joe Andolina:
But hardware with microcontrollers wasn’t paying the bills, whereas software development did. So I-

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
… doubled down on software development. But any time there was a chance to interact with the real world through microcontrollers or Wiimotes or connects or whatever, I was always super into it.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Got it.

Joe Andolina:
So finally, I’ve blended all that and made that my job.

Josh Birk:
Nice. And then on your LinkedIn, I noted that you have a bit where you built a swarm of wireless devices that use mesh networking for audience interactivity. I have to know everything about that.

Joe Andolina:
Okay, so let’s go back to the Innovation Summit. What happened was we made our own cloud boards. They’re shaped like clouds and they’re internet connected, Bluetooth-enabled. They have little LCD screens on them. So what the prompt that year was was everybody, their teams, had to make a percussive instrument. Because they each got a single note off of a xylophone that had a microphone in it, and then they had a ball… This was with wooden balls, and they’d have to drop… There was a ball dropper mechanism that they got. But between the ball and the note, they had to build the whole machine.

Joe Andolina:
So what happened was they’d make a machine by pushing a button that would drop the balls on to the note. And behind the scenes, the microcontroller is actually timing the release to the impact, because every single machine would have a different offset. And once people got far enough, there was a mobile app and they could control their machine with this mobile app and do patterns into it. So a shave and a haircut was kind of a halfway through the challenge challenge.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
And then at the very end of this project, what happens or the big reveal was we had the audience pressing their buttons, try to follow a line along and play a song. Like when you saw the yellow note, you’d press your button. And it sounded like crap on purpose. But then I told everyone to load up their machines and we’re going to try again, close your eyes. And with their eyes closed, we started and played the machines with all their offsets from our server, and it played the Brandenburg Concerto on this hundred devices. We called the project Distributed Symphony.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Oh my God.

Joe Andolina:
It was pretty cool.

Josh Birk:
That’s pretty cool. That is pretty cool. Okay, so now today, I want to focus on some of the demos you’ve been working on related to Work.com and the pandemic. Starting with fever testing, can you describe some of the hardware that’s out there that you can use to set up something like a simple fever testing kiosk?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. Once the pandemic came, everyone was like, “What are we going to do?” So very quickly it became apparent that we’re going to need to be able to deal with fevers, and Salesforce released Work.com. But Salesforce as a policy is not automating Work.com, but a lot of the customer ask was for automated solutions. So we started going down the road of the art of the possible, what is automated Work.com look like?

Joe Andolina:
So FLIR, the company, makes a $500 camera that clicks on an iPhone. That camera isn’t FDA approved for human scanning, because the error is so large.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
It has like a four degree error, and that’s exactly what a fever is. But that was the camera I used for all the demos that I was doing. It was enough to show that, “Yes, it’s possible,”

Joe Andolina:
From there, I found that Seek, it’s thermal.com, they make a scanning kiosk. I believe their API is Windows only. And then there’s a whole slew of other companies that are now making integratable stand-alone kiosks for thermal scanning.

Joe Andolina:
So if you want to play with thermal cameras, FLIR is a great solution for low end, but not necessarily human scanning. I think their next product that’s FDA approved is like $10,000. But the Seek one I mentioned is only $1,500.

Josh Birk:
Got it. So if you want a prototype but not necessarily use it in production, that’s a lot more reasonable.

Joe Andolina:
Right.

Josh Birk:
And then what’s it like on the iPad to communicate with that?

Joe Andolina:
There’s an Apple API from FLIR. That’s pretty super easy. But what happened was as we went down the road of all these COVID related things, we decided that you’re not allowed to touch anything. So a side effect of that was we got the new iPad that has the LiDAR, so you can do motion tracking. That new iPad added motion tracking, but it got rid of the lightening port, so the camera didn’t work anymore.

Josh Birk:
No way.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. So in the demo video, there’s an iPhone running the thermal scanning, and then the iPad had to be Bluetoothed to the phone to ask it what temperature it was seeing. So that is how the communication worked.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Got it.

Joe Andolina:
The rabbit hole goes deep.

Josh Birk:
Right, right. Exactly. I do like… I can almost hear your eyes light up when you said the word LiDAR though, because that’s pretty cool technology, right?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. Also, I was looking for the word. I was happy to find it and I’m excited about it.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Totally side question. How easy is it to fake a fever for demo purposes?

Joe Andolina:
I had these little heat packs. You boil them in water. They’re really cool. You click a button and it crystallizes.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
You hold it on your face for five seconds, and that gets you over the four degrees we talked about.

Josh Birk:
Got you.

Joe Andolina:
And you’re good to go.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Okay, when I first started working with Salesforce and IoT, the solutions were really pretty heavy on the programmatic side. If I wanted to talk to Salesforce, I would wrap together some combination of REST APIs and triggers, maybe a custom REST API. And then if I wanted the device to react to something, it was an HTTP callout or maybe a streaming API push. Walk me through now what it’s like to do something like create a case based on that temperature going up on the iPad.

Joe Andolina:
Well, everything you just said is still true. But yeah, so what we do is depending on which device needs to talk to Salesforce, you can OAuth straight into a connected app, and then triggering flows is how we do it. So you build a flow and pass it several arguments, like user ID, temperature. Whatever data you need for your given use case. But then within Flow Builder, it’s just create a case. So you just hit that node in your flow and you’re good to go.

Josh Birk:
Well-

Joe Andolina:
So there’s… Yeah.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. That’s an interesting part, I think, because it was always a… A decision was like, “Where does the business process live?” It shouldn’t live on the device, right? The device is just… All its job is is to say the temperature is 94, or the temperature is 96, the temperature is 98, right? And then-

Joe Andolina:
Or even just anomalies.

Josh Birk:
Right. Everything’s fine, everything’s fine. No, Joe has a fever. It’s 102. And then my business logic was usually wrapped somewhere else. But it sounds like we can put a lot of that logic into flows now.

Joe Andolina:
You can. And then, like I said, it depends who’s talking to Salesforce. Because another solution that we use a lot is to have a Heroku server with an endpoint, because some of the microcontrollers don’t have the memory to negotiate the HTTPS connection and do the OAuth. So in those cases, we’ll hit Heroku endpoints and throw the business logic on the Heroku side before it gets to a flow. And then that’ll simplify the flow.

Josh Birk:
Got it, got it.

Joe Andolina:
But you’re spot on with like, “Do all the processing as far away as you can, unless it has to do with business logic, and then move it in.”

Josh Birk:
Right, right. Well, and I always found that the events of having platform events and things like that also made coding that stuff so much easier, because you can basically just send a message over the wire. Kind of like how the device is supposed to be designed.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, pretty much. Now I just noticed that there’s a new flow type, and it’s platform event triggered flow.

Josh Birk:
Nice. So you can even remove a little bit more Apex there.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. There’s zero Apex.

Josh Birk:
Well, and that was going to be my final question. It was how streamlined are we getting to this where we’re almost getting to… I don’t want to say no code, because I actually literally just had a conversation about how flow is more visual code, but not necessarily the programmatic code that we’re thinking of.

Joe Andolina:
Right. I’ve been working since March, so I don’t know how long our… So eight months?

Josh Birk:
Yeah.

Joe Andolina:
And there’s been not one line of Salesforce code-

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
… for these things.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
Only I need to do some JSON processing, and so that’s today. So that’s the first time I’ve done any Apex coding in eight months.

Josh Birk:
Let’s unpack that a little bit. No joke intended. So the flow is doing most of the work, but Apex is going to be doing this very specialized job of decoding that JSON for you.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. The flow has a way to get out. You do an action, and if you have a… What is the word? I can click on my developer console. Hold on real quick.

Josh Birk:
Okay.

Joe Andolina:
If you have an invocable method on your Apex call, then that’ll show up in your flow as an action. So you just call it right there.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Nice.

Joe Andolina:
So the integrations is pretty tight, although my current one isn’t working yet.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Okay, so going to a different use case, what is density.io and how can it help with tracking occupancy?

Joe Andolina:
Density.io is… Well, let me take a step back. We’ve been working with all sorts of hardware manufacturers and there’s crazy devices out there. It’s pretty exciting. They have a camera that can take everybody’s temperature in a whole room all at once.

Josh Birk:
Really?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. There’s some really cool stuff out there. So density.io is another one of those cool objects or cool developers. It’s a human sensor that goes over doorways, ideally, and it tracks flow in and out of a room anonymously. So if people had Bluetooth badges, you could add a badge scanner to it to see who’s going in and out. But our use case was for restroom occupancy to see if they were too crowded. You don’t want to be in small spaces. So it’s just anonymously letting you know if a bathroom was full or crowded.

Josh Birk:
So is it detecting velocity then? It knows somebody is going in versus somebody is coming out?

Joe Andolina:
I think it does. It’s directional and it’s just blob detection, basically. Very low level computer vision.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
Not low level, but very simple.

Josh Birk:
But low fidelity, because it doesn’t care what it looks like, it just cares where it’s going.

Joe Andolina:
Right.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Talk to me a little bit about the Salesforce side of the setup of that demo. How did you structure the data in order to be able to track that occupancy?

Joe Andolina:
A lot of what we’ve been doing is integrating cloud to cloud, not the devices. Because a lot of the developers have their own clouds gathering up all this data.

Joe Andolina:
My favorite so far has been SenseAgent. They’re an Australian company, and they have these devices. There’s four of them over my head right now. But they do light, noise level, volatile chemicals, CO2, all this stuff. In addition, they also have Bluetooth capabilities. So it can track real time people’s proximity to one another, and who’s in the room, and where they’re standing. It does really cool stuff. But all we had to do for them, and the same with density.io, is just write an integration to their cloud into our stuff, and then make custom objects for the portions of the data that we’re interested in. Sometimes that’s just another Heroku endpoint that they call periodically or once certain thresholds are met.

Josh Birk:
Got it. Got it. So once again, very kind of low level and just having APIs talking to each other to make sure important data is getting to the right place.

Joe Andolina:
Right.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Now in that demo, you’re using your customized microcontrollers there, right?

Joe Andolina:
Right. Those are the leftovers from that Distributed Symphony project.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Nice. And then you have that device reacting to the state of things in Salesforce. So that’s the opposite route of what we’ve been kind of talking about. And by the way, this is one of my favorite IoT tricks. It’s like seeing Doug’s Sparky’s arm move, just because some opportunity changed. That’s like black magic for some people who haven’t seen that kind of reaction before, right?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah.

Josh Birk:
So how is that device getting that near real-time response to something that’s happening in the cloud?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. I am there with you. Using Salesforce to control objects outside in the real world is magical, because Salesforce was built to consume data. It’s very rarely outputting the data. So what these devices are doing is calling flows directly. So if you use a platform event, you can call a flow, and that’s fine. But if you call a flow directly, then you can get a response from it.

Joe Andolina:
The device says, “I’m this room at this location. What’s my occupancy?” And then it sends back what the occupancy is, what color the light should be, and what image to display on your screen.

Josh Birk:
Got you.

Joe Andolina:
So like we said earlier, all that business logic is on server side. This thing’s dumb. It’s like, “There’s this many people. Turn my light this color.” It doesn’t even have to change its light color based on the number it gets, because all that business logic is handled in the flow.

Josh Birk:
Which is going back to that design principle of IoT likes to send only the data it wants and only the data it needs kind of thing. So you’re saying that message is as short and simple as possible.

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, no noise.

Josh Birk:
No noise. Nice. That’s a good way to put it. Are there other tricks about tracking proximity with… I guess is there specific things with Bluetooth and hardware to know you’re that employee and you’re walking up to that desk?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, so a lot of the kiosks we’ve built using the iPad, they use just regular Bluetooth, which has general bands of like, “I see this many devices. They’re near, far, or immediate.” So that’s really cool. And you have those IDs. So if it’s somebody’s badge…

Joe Andolina:
That’s another thing. HID Global and a bunch of other companies are now building employee badges that have Bluetooth signatures. So if your building’s instrumented correctly, you’ll know where everybody is within… Or at least the last sensor they went by. If you have enough sensors, like the SenseAgent stuff where you build a grid, you’ll know exactly where people are at all times. Got sidetracked on the question there.

Josh Birk:
No, that’s-

Joe Andolina:
I was winding up for the answer and I missed it.

Josh Birk:
No, that’s kind of where I was going with. I was just kind of curious as to some of the specifics of how that hardware goes one step beyond and says, “You’re this employee and you’re in this location,” kind of thing.

Joe Andolina:
Right. So that’s another place where Salesforce shines is because you’ve given out these badges that have anonymous IDs, right? And only when you come back, when you take that ID, you can tie it to the user record securely inside of Salesforce. So then it knows what door and where you were at. That’s just basically Bluetooth advertising data.

Josh Birk:
Got you.

Joe Andolina:
So your phone is always trying to connect to networks and saying, “Hey, I’m this person,” or, “Hey, I want to connect all the devices around me.” So even without those batches, you can do anonymous tracking of devices just by listening, which is pretty cool.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
Bluetooth is only accurate to about three to six feet. And then there’s NRF, which devices which are… You can get accuracy down to the inch, which is pretty cool.

Josh Birk:
Wow, nice.

Joe Andolina:
So if you get a different flavor of radio frequency, then you get your different resolution. Because you can even use wifi for triangulation, but it’s not super accurate.

Josh Birk:
Right, right. Now, walk me through… Let’s take the scenario on the Salesforce side of things. So the demo where somebody’s at a workstation and somebody gets too close, what’s the back and forth on the Salesforce side to kind of like track that data and then end up in a resolution that might require a case?

Joe Andolina:
In the scenario where somebody is at a workstation, that workstation is considered occupied, and then somebody else comes and crowds the workstation for a given amount of time?

Josh Birk:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joe Andolina:
That’ll put it into an alert state. So you’ll have records for who’s there. You’ll know who was there first and who did the crowding. And then you’ll also know their durations of how long they were at the workstation, just by their Bluetooth badges and then the occasional polling.

Joe Andolina:
But then, again, just to sound like a broken record, we just throw it into a flow. And if your conditions are met that there’s more than X number of people at this station for this amount of time, schedule a support ticket to have the station cleaned and also schedule a case to go do follow up with those people and make sure they’re not contaminated and stuff.

Josh Birk:
Got it.

Joe Andolina:
But all that comes down to business use cases for the customer, right? If they are okay with people hanging out until somebody has a fever, then they’ll use that data to figure… They might incorporate that data into contact tracing or something.

Josh Birk:
Yeah. I guess we keep coming back to this, your architecture can remain 90% the same, and all that’s doing is sending the messages that are important across the wire. And then the complicated stuff, the business logic, that can be handled in flow, and that can be customized down to specifically what somebody actually needs.

Joe Andolina:
Right. Because if employees start working in employee pods or say they’re family members, you’re going to have to be able to have exceptions where yeah, those people crowded, but they’re okay to crowd.

Josh Birk:
Right. That’s the work team that’s actually assigned to do that. Got you.

Josh Birk:
Okay, we promised we were going to give Charlie Issacs a shout-out here, since he was involved in some of these. How’s Charlie doing these days?

Joe Andolina:
Charlie’s doing great. I can’t thank him enough for this stuff.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
And if we could just rewind the conversation back to the first IoT with the marbles, Charlie was part of that.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
Charlie has brought me in for all these demos, working with outside clients to show them the art of the possible.

Josh Birk:
Got it, got it.

Joe Andolina:
So he is the IoT master.

Josh Birk:
He is very centered to the IoT world of Salesforce. And once again, I love the fact that even though I’m basically stuck at home all the time, I keep running into Charlie.

Joe Andolina:
He’s like your stalker.

Josh Birk:
I know. Even in a virtual world, Charlie Issacs is probably there.

Joe Andolina:
I believe, Josh, that you and I… I know you because of Charlie.

Josh Birk:
Right. Yes, exactly. And he has been this… He’s kind of like the Kevin Bacon of the IoT world in Salesforce, I feel like.

Joe Andolina:
Ouch.

Josh Birk:
Okay, so I know you’ve done a lot of cool stuff both in and outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. So what would you consider to be one of your neatest projects, either Salesforce or not Salesforce for-

Joe Andolina:
Oh man. Okay.

Josh Birk:
You can take two if it’s hard to pick-

Joe Andolina:
Yeah, so I’d like to say-

Josh Birk:
… the favorite of your children.

Joe Andolina:
… building custom hardware for that Distributed Symphony. I’ve never built a circuit board before, so that was for a heavy duty circuit board with surface-mount devices. So that was the coolest Salesforce thing I’ve done.

Josh Birk:
Got you.

Joe Andolina:
And then I just finished or we’re finishing up a three year camper conversion from a cargo van. So-

Josh Birk:
What?

Joe Andolina:
It was absolutely blank when we got it, and now it’s got hardwood floors, it has a winch to pull motorcycles in it, unfolding beds, it’s got ground effects. Yeah, so that’s pretty awesome because… Yeah, and the electrical system that went in there is crazy, because why not?

Josh Birk:
Ground effects like LED lighting on the undercarriage?

Joe Andolina:
Yeah. My friends are into rock crawling. So if you ever get caught out rock crawling at night, they make these kits where it lights your wheel wells so you can see where you’re going.

Josh Birk:
No way.

Joe Andolina:
So then when I was buying it… And then also another thing is if you get to a campsite and you just turn those on, it lights the ground so you can set up faster. So I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll get those.” And I’m like, “Wait, they make green ones. They make blue ones.” And then I’m like, “Why not RGB?” I think now it’s just a cool factor. Maybe not even cool, but it’s just more fun to make the van exciting.

Josh Birk:
Nice. Now, for the people out there who are not Joe and are not creating their own custom microcontrollers and IoT hardware, do you have… And I’m actually kind of asking this for myself because I’ve been out of the loop for a little bit. Is there IoT hardware that you kind of recommend people pick up if they just kind of wanted to try some of this IoT architecture that we’re talking about?

Joe Andolina:
I mean, there’s all sorts of just IoT lights and things like that that you can get off Amazon. And then the easiest way to get into IoT is get something that then ties into if this, then that.

Josh Birk:
Yes, nice.

Joe Andolina:
So if you just find any device you want that’s if this, then that compatible, you should be good to go. And then-

Josh Birk:
Sorry. Well, I should note, just to kind of bring it full circle, there is a Salesforce if this, then that, which was generated by our beautiful friend James Ward.

Joe Andolina:
Whoa.

Josh Birk:
There you go.

Joe Andolina:
So you could extend that to do all the work we’ve been doing. Maybe I should just have been doing that instead.

Josh Birk:
Okay. Now, I think this question is actually potentially going to be a little difficult because you have so many technical hobbies, but what is your favorite non-technical hobby?

Joe Andolina:
There’s skiing or dirt biking.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
I love adrenaline, and sitting behind a desk is not that exciting.

Josh Birk:
Well, it doesn’t surprise me because you also have a pretty impressive hardware shop at home, right?

Joe Andolina:
I do. So back to college, that sculpture class ruined me because I had access to TIG welders, MIG welders, a wood shop, a metal shop. That’s also when I learned how to weld.

Josh Birk:
Nice.

Joe Andolina:
So at home, because I’m a nerd, there’s a four axis CNC mill, a laser cutter, a metal lathe, and then… It’s pretty outfitted as a metal/machine shop.

Josh Birk:
Nice, nice.

Joe Andolina:
We don’t have room to put the wood in, but a wood shop would be great too.

Josh Birk:
That’s our show. I want to thank Joe for the great conversation and information. And as always, I want to thank you for listening. If you want to learn more about Joe’s inventions and demos, head on over to developer.salesforce.com/podcast, where you can see the show notes, hear old episodes, and have links to your favorite podcast service. Thanks again, and I’ll talk to you next week.